Category Archives: Google LatLong Blog

News and notes by the Google Earth and Maps team

A better way to share your ETA with Google Maps

Getting where you need to go is important, but making it to your destination safe and sound is the most important thing of all. Today, Google Maps is improving journey sharing on Android and bringing it to iOS, making it easier to share your ETA with loved ones so you can keep your hands off your phone and your eyes on the road. Here’s how it works:

After you’ve started navigating to a destination, tap on the ˄ button and then on “Share trip progress.” From here you’ll be able to share your live location, route, and ETA with all your favorite contacts. Today’s update also allows for sharing across 3rd party apps like Facebook Messenger, Line, WhatsApp, and more—so you can communicate with friends on the platforms you prefer. Once your journey ends, you’ll automatically stop sharing your location.

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Improved journey sharing is now available for driving, walking, and cycling navigation on Android and iOS. To get started, make sure to update Google Maps from the Play Store or App Store.

Source: Google LatLong

Get charged up with Google Maps

We built Google Maps to help people get where they need to go no matter what mode of transportation they use. Our newest feature brings helpful information about electric vehicle (EV) charging stations to the Map, so you can be confident that your car will be charged and ready for your ride, wherever you’re headed. Here’s how it works:

A quick search for keywords like “ev charging” or “EV charging stations" will display the nearest supported stations. To help you make a quick decision about which station to use, we’ll show you information about the business where the station is located, the types of ports available, charging speeds, and how many ports there are. You’ll also see information about the station from drivers, including photos, ratings, reviews and questions.

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In addition, businesses that have charging stations will now feature a link to information about the chargers.

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Google Maps now supports charging stations around the world, including:

Global: Tesla, Chargepoint

US:SemaConnect, EVgo, Blink

UK:Chargemaster, Pod Point

AU & NZ: Chargefox

The ability to search for electric vehicle charging stations starts rolling out today on Android and iOS, with desktop launching in the coming weeks. To get started on mobile, update your Google Maps app from the App Store or Play Store today.

Source: Google LatLong

Inside Google’s original garage, 1998-style

You may remember 1998 as a glorious year filled with endless games of Snake on your brick phone (you couldn’t go through the walls yet) and listening to “Baby One More Time” at max volume on your discman. Meanwhile, in Susan Wojcicki’s disused garage in California, two university students, Larry and Sergey, decided they were going to organize the world’s information and make it accessible to everyone.

To celebrate Google’s 20th birthday, today we invite you to travel back in time and take a virtual stroll through the original Google Garage in Street View—(almost) just like it was 20 years ago.

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The original blue side door to the Google Garage on Santa Margarita, Menlo Park

As you walk through the garage’s side door, you’ll note a familiar Search box on an old “CRT” computer monitor held up by a wooden workhorse table with yellow legs. Larry and Sergey were particularly thrilled that use of the washing machine and dryer was included in their rent.

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As you chase cables that scramble haphazardly down the hallway, you’ll find a bedroom (ahem, “main office”) with a whiteboard that reads “Google’s Worldwide Headquarters” in black text. On another whiteboard, you’ll see a cheeky homage to Google’s logo update back in 1998. Doesn’t the delightful wallpaper remind you of tea at your grandparents' place?

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As the team grew to six people, they expanded their workspaces into the three small bedrooms on the ground floor. Hunt around and you’ll find a collapsible mini rainbow sphere, a surf-frog terrarium, a dinosaur, a ping pong table, and a piano keyboard for music breaks.


If you want to see exactly how the same space looked back in 1998, check out this archival video clip captured by Harry, Google’s sixth employee.

Google Garage Early Days

For a peek through Google history, just find the secret trapdoor and turn on the neon light—a secret easter egg world awaits you. 😉


Source: Google LatLong

All together now: group planning on Google Maps

This may sound familiar: you and your friends are trying to pick a place for dinner, but no one wants to make the decision and you don't know where to go. How do you decide on a place that your BBQ aficionado bestie, quinoa-loving sister, and wannabe foodie friend can all enjoy without scrolling through a ton of links in group text messages?

Starting today, you can use Google Maps to easily plan where to go as a group. Simply long press on any place to add it to a shortlist - the small floating bubble on the side of your screen. Once you've added places, you can quickly share the list with your friends on any messaging platform, add or remove additional places, and vote together in Google Maps.

The group planning feature starts rolling out on Android and iOS this week. To get started, download the Google Maps app or update it from the Play Store or App Store.

Source: Google LatLong

Cruising around a supervolcano lake in Street View

Around 75,000 years ago (give or take a couple of millennia), a supervolcano erupted on the island of Sumatra in Indonesia, throwing out so much ash that it created a volcanic winter lasting several years. The eruption was so massive that the volcano collapsed under its own power, creating the caldera we now call Lake Toba.

At over 100 kilometers long and 30 kilometres wide, Lake Toba is the largest volcanic lake in the world. A small team of Googlers spent the last two months scouring every meter of its coastline, using a Street View Trekker mounted on a boat,  to collect gorgeous 360-degree imagery around this former supervolcano.

It may have been a fiery pit of lava in the distant past, but today, Lake Toba is a lush Indonesian rainforest, home to an abundance of native animals like orangutans and tapirs. We weren’t able to catch any of these creatures in the imagery, but we did get a lot of other natural attractions.

Lake Toba looms large in the imagination of the Batak, the people who have inhabited the area for centuries. According to Batak legend, a fisherman caught a fish that turned into a beautiful princess. She married him on the condition that he never reveal her true origin. One day, in a fit of impatience at their son, the fisherman called him a son of a fish. When the princess heard her husband had broken his oath, she told her son to climb to the highest peak in the area. She prayed and it began to rain so hard that the resulting flood created a huge lake. The peak, which her son was on became the island of Samosir, revered by the Batak in the area as their original home. The princess? She went back to being a fish!

Today we invite you to explore Lake Toba, now part of our Street View collection of other amazing places in Indonesia like Borobudur and the sites for the 2018 Asian Games.

Source: Google LatLong

Tackle your bucket list with Reserve with Google

The next time you're looking for something fun to do, Google can help you take that surfing class you’ve been dreaming of or visit that amazing museum you’ve been thinking about. You can now book top attractions, activities, and more, directly from Google Search, Maps, and the Assistant via Reserve with Google. From the UNESCO World Heritage Site Casa Batllo in Barcelona to urban kayaking in Chicago, booking an activity is easier than ever before.

Just look for the “Find tickets” button on a place listing (or the “Schedule” button on the Assistant) and tap it. From there you can explore your options, select the number of tickets you need, prepay, and be on your way.

These bookings are possible thanks to integrations with partners like Peek and Tiqets. Additional activities with more businesses will become available as we add new partners like Accesso, Checkfront, CourseHorse, Fareharbor, Musement, Rezdy, and TripAdvisor Experiences.

If you aren’t ready to fly to Paris to visit the Eiffel Tower just yet, don’t worry! You can also book at hundreds of thousands of restaurants, salons, and fitness studios (and more!) in your own backyard right from Google Search, Maps, and the Assistant.

Source: Google LatLong

5 ways to use Google Maps on Apple CarPlay

Google Maps is now supported by Apple CarPlay, which means that iPhone users can navigate with Google Maps right from their car’s built-in display. Read on to learn how to get the most out of the new experience:

Real time information when you need it: Google Maps on CarPlay features the same navigation experience found in the app. Search for places, see alternative routes and get live, up to date  information about traffic jams and delays happening right now. See an up to the minute ETA so you know exactly when you’ll be at your destination.

Never miss a beat.You know the drill. You’re rushing out the door, and you immediately start navigating on your iPhone to see how long it’ll take you to get to your destination. Google Maps on CarPlay lets you start navigation from your iPhone and immediately pick up where you left off once you’ve connected to CarPlay - because we know that minutes matter when you’re pressed for time.

No data? No problem.You can still find your way even if you have spotty reception or an expensive data plans. Whether you’re camping in the wilderness or traveling abroad, you can use downloaded maps of an area  so you can see directions and use turn by turn navigation even when you can’t get online.

These are a few of our favorite things:If you’re obsessed with creating lists likewe are, you’re in luck. You can access any of your saved lists from Google Maps on CarPlay, and quickly navigate to all of your favorite places with a single tap.

Save time when commuting: If you've set up your commute within the app, you can quickly navigate to home or work. While en route, you’ll see real time traffic updates about your journey so you can be prepared for whatever the ride has in store.

Google Maps is now available to use with CarPlay on all CarPlay supported vehicles and devices globally.

To get started, make sure your iPhone is running iOS 12, update your app to Version 5 in the App Store and connect your iPhone via CarPlay. Have an Android phone? Make sure to check out Google Maps onAndroid Auto.


Source: Google LatLong

Building the map of Canada’s north

In the winter, the sun barely scrapes the horizon in Canada’s high north. The average lows hover in the -30s, roads are covered in snow and polar bear sightings aren’t uncommon. For those who call Canada’s arctic home, winter is a way of life. And the only way to truly understand it, as one resident put it to us, is to see it for yourself.

In 2012, teams from Google Canada and Google Earth Outreach touched down in the tiny fly-in community of Cambridge Bay, Nunavut, beginning an ambitious program to map the towns, wildlife and parks of Canada’s arctic. At the time, the digital maps of Canada’s north needed work. When you searched for a shop, a hospital or a school, the map pins would all land on the same spot: the post office, because that’s where every person and every business had a PO Box. While traditional cartography had captured the inlets and tundra of the north’s physical geography, there were no digital maps that accurately reflected the world of the people living there.


Trike in Cambridge Bay

In addition to collecting Street View imagery of the town and surrounding landscape using an oversized tricycle, we worked with the nonprofit, Nunavut Tunngavik, to conduct a “map up” in the local community center. The people of Cambridge Bay, a hamlet of 1,500 people north of the arctic circle, added streets, places of worship and homes directly to the Google Map. This was about more than simply making an accurate and useful map—it was about building a virtual bridge between the communities of Canada’s north and the world.

Anna Nahogaloak is an Inuit elder and renowned seamstress in Cambridge Bay. “People are always asking how we live, how we survive,” she said the first time she saw the map zoom in on her village in Google Maps. “I think that it is important for all people to see Nunavut. This will help them understand and learn more about Nunavut. I think that it is important for Inuit people to contribute to the maps. It is important for everybody. The land is everybody’s land. We all share it.”

After Cambridge Bay, our work in Canada’s north expanded, and the newly developed Trekker allowed us to bring our Street View cameras to even more remote spots. Our teams traveled to Iqaluit, collecting Street View imagery from the frozen streets of Nunavut’s capital, conducting another map up and exploring the frozen landscape from the back of a dogsled. We also partnered with Parks Canada to collect Street View imagery from Canada’s northern parks, including Quttinirpaaq National Park. Located just 500 miles (800 kilometers) from the north pole, it remains the most northern Street View imagery on Google Maps.

To support the conservation efforts of Canada’s arctic wildlife, over the past several years we worked with Polar Bears International and the Arctic Eider Society to take the Street View beyond the towns and onto the arctic’s tundra and ice flows. PBI strapped the trekker to a “tundra buggy” to capture polar bears in their natural environment. And we climbed on board a snowmobile to travel onto the ice of Hudson’s Bay to the small open pools of water where the eider ducks of Canada’s far north spend their winters. The Canadian arctic remains ecologically fragile, vulnerable to the impacts of climate change. Street View provides a window for Google Maps users worldwide to explore these fragile habitats.

Bringing Street View to Canada’s arctic gets us closer to our ultimate goal of creating the world’s most comprehensive, accurate and usable map. But it’s also more than that. For any community's sense of place in the digital age, they need to be on the map—that’s as true in Toronto as it is in Sanikiluaq (look it up). Chris Kalluk, who lives in Nunavut and helped us collect the Street View imagery of Canada’s north, thinks about it this way: “Our home is a place with a vast amount of local knowledge and a rich history. By putting these tools in the hands of our people, we will tell Nunavut’s story to the world.”

As we reflect on Google’s 20th birthday this month, we think the story of Canada’s arctic is a story worth being told.

Source: Google LatLong

Air View is ready to expand to more places around the globe

Clean air is critical to life on Earth, yet over90 percent of the world’s population breathes polluted air. Over the past few years, we’ve been using a handful of Street View vehicles to gather air quality measurements, which can produce insights at the neighborhood level and can help cities become smarter and healthier.

Along with Aclima, we've been testing air quality equipment with the goal of fine-tuning their mobile-friendly air sensors to a point where they deliver accuracy comparable to laboratory-grade instruments.  After years of effort we’ve now achieved this goal. Today, we’re announcing that we will expand our air quality mapping to more Street View cars in more places around the globe. The locations are to be determined, but we have 50 air quality sensor-equipped Street View cars ready to hit the road.

During our initial research phase, Google and Aclima tested air quality equipment on a few Street View cars. Each car was installed with two sets of instruments: the first set contained laboratory-grade air quality reference instruments that are typically used for government air quality monitoring. This equipment is expensive and big, so it’s hard to deploy on a large number of vehicles. The second set had Aclima’s smaller, more mobile-friendly, air sensors that enable us to deploy in higher numbers. With both sets of equipment side-by-side, we've been able to validate their performance, and we’re now confident that the smaller Aclima sensors are ready to be deployed in 50 Street View cars.

Air View 1

Aclima’s sensor node in a Street View car.

This expansion builds upon work we’ve done in California over the past year. Our partners at the Environmental Defense Fund (EDF), University of Texas-Austin, and Aclima published a study showing that our mobile measurements can produce a map of air quality changing block by block. Scientists with Kaiser Permanente and EDF used the data to show a link between street-level air pollution and heart disease among the elderly. We began sharing the validated scientific air quality measurements with researchers, and will continue to make all of the street-level air quality data captured to date accessible with over 250 million measurements over four years and more to come with this expansion. Scientists and researchers are invited to request access to this data for air quality studies here.

Air View 2

Left: Black carbon particles come from burning fuel, especially diesel, wood and coal. Air quality data from Google and Aclima; analysis by Apte et al/EDF. Right: Air quality measurements in the San Francisco Bay Area region. Air quality data from Google and Aclima.

The measurements captured by these specially-equipped Street View cars around the world will show a snapshot of air quality at a moment in time, and can be used by scientists to combine with other data to develop air quality models. With this data, cities will be able to make more informed decisions and accelerate effort in their transition to a healthier city.

Source: Google LatLong

Bringing the magic of Lebanon to the world

If it was up to me, everyone would get to visit my home country, Lebanon (and they’d have a long list of things to do and sites to see). But for those who can’t get to experience it in person, we’ve just added 41 iconic sites—from ancient temples to heritage sites and natural forests—to Street View.

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The National Museum of Beirut was constructed between 1930 and 1937. As a result of the Lebanese Civil War, the museum had to close for over two decades but re-opened in 2016.

Lebanon is beautiful and diverse. If you were visiting in person, I’d suggest starting the tour with a manoushe on the go—it’s a flatbread with Zaatar (a thyme herb mix) you can get from the corner baker’s oven on Hamra street, one of the busiest districts in Beirut.  But if you’re doing the tour virtually, let’s begin.


Rock of Raouché, also known as Pigeons' Rock. The rock formations will leave you feeling inspired.

Thanks to Street View, you can now discover one of the 14 worldwide landmarks and greatest natural wonders, the breathtaking Jeita Grotto. Discovered in 1836, the caves were used as an ammunition store during the civil war. With a length of 9 kilometers (5.6 miles), Jeita Grotto is the longest cave system in the Middle East, split into two sections. You can now virtually visit the underground river, and then watch the dazzling rock formations at the upper cave.

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Jeita Grotto, also known the Pearl Nature in Lebanon

Take in some culture and explore the rich history of Lebanon by heading East to Baalbek, one of the mysterious ruins of the Roman Empire, also called City of the Sun. There’s something special about this modern city with all the Roman structures at its heart.

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Head to Byblos, one of the 20 world’s oldest cities and the first city of Phoenicia. Byblos today bridges the ancient with the modern, and with Street View, you can virtually stroll the street markets in Byblos and enjoy the coastal view during sunset.

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Established in 5,000 B.C., Byblos is considered as one of the oldest continuously inhabited settlements in the world.

Just 37 miles (60 kilometers) from the capital Beirut, visit Shouf Cedar Reserve,  the largest nature reserve in Lebanon, and home to the Cedar tree, the emblem of the Lebanese national flag. There are many trails for hiking—each will unveil a new layer of natural beauty.

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Al Shouf Cedar Nature Reserve encloses 3 Cedar forests and is home to 200 unique birds.

My trips to Beirut are never complete without stopping to revisit  the American University of Beirut, one of the oldest universities in the Arab world.   Located in the city of Hamra, the campus sits on a hill overlooking the Mediterranean Sea, spread across 61-acres of beautiful landscape.

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The Issam Fares Institute for Public Policy and International Affairs building by late architect Zaha Hadid at the American University of Beirut.

I encourage you to also check Google Arts & Culture and see a special showcase. And whether you continue your journey on Google Maps or get inspired to visit in person, I hope you’ll get a deeper appreciation for this small but magical country in the Middle East.

Source: Google LatLong